Life is A Current Affair
In silence darkness I hum to keep myself company. The Bay is calm, and stars still twinkle in the western sky. With paddle in hand, I slip into the icy water. It is 6 AM, Monday morning, and I'm on my way to school.
Having kayaked the distance before, I know I can easily be at the dock by 7:30 AM. This morning, I've decided to take time to savor all the little miracles along the way. My first source of pleasure comes from the peace and tranquility one can only experience before the wind wakes up the trees and the first dog barks. The landscape lies motionless in its silence.
Three hundred feet off shore, I look back to the hills I grew up on, and forest I played in as a child. From out here I can see half the West Side; including both my elementary and junior high schools. My kayak is like a time machine, carrying me back to memories of the past. It may also be my ticket to the future.
What's that? Something is moving on the small island just ahead. As I get closer, it becomes apparent there is a group of harbor seals resting among the rocks on the water's edge. If I stop paddling, maybe I can coast in and get a photo. Gently I move closer. Fifteen feet from the shore, a seal spots me and makes a dash for the water... so I shoot him. Other seals heard the splash and my cover is blown, so I shoot them too(with my camera of course). It is now 6:30 AM and I must be moving on.
Approaching Partridge Island, the current got noticeably stronger. The water is moving so fast that I don't even need to paddle. This is very convenient, but can also be very dangerous. When fast moving water passes over a large rock just beneath the surface, a massive wave is created. If my kayak does not hit the wave straight on, it will toss me sideways, causing the boat to capsize. Once in the water a person only has 8 to 12 minutes before hypothermic shock and loss of life. Not exactly a great way to start off my day, but life would be boring if I always knew what was going to happen next.
This is by far the most frightening part of the journey. If I stay too close to shore, I will get pinned against the rocks and be crushed by the pounding surf. If I go too far off shore, I may lose control of my kayak in the powerful current and be swept away with the tide. In times like this, to keep from chickening-out of a life threatening situation, I often think upon an inspirational quote: When I'm having an adventure... I wish I were safe at home. When I'm safe at home... I wish I were having an adventure!
I can now see the monster that lies ahead. The closer I get, the faster my heart races. The rip tide has me and I'm picking up speed. Okay....... Steady....... Gotta keep going straight or I'm dead. Here I go...... Yahooooo! Yes! I made it! Although it only lasted 5 seconds, it frightened the hell out of me like no roller coaster ever has! Forget coffee. There's nothing better than a good scare to wake you up and get the heart pumpin'...!
It is now 7AM. I'm sitting in the mouth of the harbor, watching the sun rise over distant hills to the east. I'm thinking about school. Not Saint John High, the school of hard knocks, or... life. It's a shame, I learn more on my way to school... than I do in the five hours spent there. Still pondering these philosophies, I proceed on to my destination.